I’m going to do my best to keep this particular note of praise from getting old in the coming weeks, since it has consistently been one of The Demon Girl Next Door‘s greatest strengths, but I just really love the completely casual and effortless way that the show slips its character development and important background information into its jokey-joke scripts and slice-of-life pacing. It makes watching and rewatching the series a very rewarding experience, because the smallest of off-the-cuff lines could have very significant implications for the overall story. This is a gag anime about a really dumb but sweet demon girl who wants nothing more than to make the magical girl next door smile. It doesn’t have to worry about worldbuilding or character arcs, and yet it goes the extra mile all the same.
Before we get to that, though, we have a pretty funny sketch that showcases just how terrible Shamiko is at fairly standard things, such as using the internet. It’s getting more difficult these days for me to believe that any Zoomer living in a tech-savvy society would be so utterly baffled by the most basic of technological concepts, especially when it may come to social media, no matter how cosmically impoverished they be . Is Shamiko’s cluelessness a character cliché that might not totally work here in the 2020s, or is it a clue that has larger implications about the differences between our world and this magic-infused alternate universe???
Eh, it’s probably that first option, but it’s always fun to play along with the “Guess Which Innocuous Detail is Secretly Super Important to the Lore™” game. Besides, even if it is a little silly to have Shamiko be so comically underprepared to even log on to a single website, this is a silly show, and there are a bunch of those small humorous flourishes that DGND It is so good at, like Momo’s cute presentation sign, or the fact that Kyo assumes that making social media friends are essentially equivalent to soldiers being recruited into her big sister’s evil army. Plus, you know my heart melted when Shamiko had to use her Whatchamacallit Wand to ask Momo to be friends on social media. Great stuff.
The episode’s second story is the meatier one, since it gives Lilith the opportunity to once again spend some time borrowing her dear descendant’s body for a joy ride. This whole bit is one of those exemplary occasions where DGND is just flinging little bits of backstory and character development like they were falling out of the back of a truck, and you hardly notice because you’re too busy giggling at the hilariously extra outfit that Lilith coerced Shamiko into buying for the upcoming frenemy date with Momo. The whole reason that Momo and Shamiko decide to take pity on Lilith at all is because they learn that, for most of the 2,000 years she has spent trapped in that icon that looks distractingly like a sex toy, the poor demon was completely isolated and alone . It wasn’t until Shamiko was born that she began to regain enough power to even glimpse the outside world, and even then, it took a full decade for Lilith to make contact. Even Momo, whose favorite hobby is yeeting Lilith’s statue to parts unknown, concedes that the ancient devil at least deserves one afternoon out…under Momo’s strict supervision, of course.
If I’m being honest, the girls’ day out isn’t the funniest that DGND has ever been, but it’s still a good time, and the story reaches a sweet conclusion once Momo finally lets Lilith take a break from exercise routines to take a dip in the bath. I’m usually wary whenever any show with a predominately young and female cast goes to a bathhouse, but DGND was thankfully pretty tasteful with all of the scenes that the girls spend in the buff. No leering camera angles, no conspicuous feet shots, no cringe-inducing bits where the girls start rubbing each other’s boobs like they were characters in a very problematic Penthouse letter. Sure, Lilith has fun at Momo’s expense when it seems like the magical girl is too shy to get naked in front of the obnoxious demon that is possessing the body of her best friend and probable crush, but the show doesn’t get weird with it .
Instead, we learn that Momo’s body is covered in scars from battles that she still doesn’t feel comfortable opening up about, and that Lilith is actually deathly afraid of the dark. She specifically notes that, when she was trapped in the statue to begin with, she hadn’t even mastered her magic powers yet, so she spent years in a literal void of nothingness until she could bring a spark of light back into her life. It’s a deeply sad thing to learn about this haughty and arrogant character, and it explains an awful lot about her current demeanor.
And yeah, Momo does eventually use this rare moment of vulnerability to ruthlessly blackmail Lilith into behaving, but I don’t think Shamiko is wrong when she believes that the two have genuinely come to understand each other better. That’s The Demon Girl Next Door In a nutshell for you: Come for the funny jokes, and stay for the sincere and surprisingly deep story of a bunch of lonely girls that are doing their best to learn how to love and be loved again.
The Demon Girl Next Door Season 2 is currently streaming on HIDIVE.
James is a writer with many thoughts and feelings about anime and other pop-culture, which can also be found on Twitterhis blog, and his podcast.